Category Archives: Homage to Gita Sen

Homage to Gita Sen

Films Selected at Imagineindia 2017

CALCUTTA 71 (Mrinal Sen) India

KHARIJ (Mrinal Sen) India

Gita Sen was born in a small suburb of Calcutta. She started acting at a very young age in political plays with some of the stalwarts of Indian theatre.  Gita started acting in films from the late 1940s. Her first film role was in a film called Dudhara, where she met the writer of the story, Mrinal Sen, and later married him in 1953. During this period she also acted in Nagarik, the first film made by her friend, Ritwik Ghatak. She dropped out of acting after her son was born in 1954 but resumed theatre acting again in 1966 with Utpal Dutt. She came back to film acting in Calcutta 71, a film made by her husband, Mrinal Sen. She continued to work in films until her last acting role in Mahaprithibi (1991), During this period some of her memorable roles were in films like Ek Din Pratidin, Akaler Sandhaney, Aarohan, Chalchitra, Khandhar, and Mahaprithibi. Even though her acting career was relatively limited in number of films and plays, she gained the respect of the audience and fellow actors through the depth of her emotional performance. Almost all of her roles were to portray lower middle class women, struggling to survive, and she portrayed them with unprecedented dignity and depth.

Text by Kunal Sen

Calcutta 71 (Mrinal Sen)

Calcutta 71
Mrinal Sen
India.  1972.  132 min.
Cast:  Ranjit Mullick, Utpal Dutt, Geeta Sen.

This film is considered to be the second of Calcutta’s trilogy of Mrinal Sen, the others are Interview and Padatik. Calcutta 71 is a collection of stories that represent the seventies and shows the naxalite activity, the hunger of ordinary people, and social and political corruption. The first story is about a low-middle-class family staying in a cabin in a slum area. On a rainy night they are forced to leave the house and move to another safe haven, but they find that many others have already taken refuge before them. The second story is about another middle-class family of mother and two mature daughters who could not cope with hunger and poverty and succumbed to prostitution. Their cousin Nalinakhya, who lives in Delhi, comes to visit them and knows the hard reality. This story is based on a real story by Probodh Kumar Sanyal called ‘Angar’. The third story is a middle-class rural family where the eldest son of a family is involved in smuggling rice into the city, leaving his school and his education. It is a criticism of the way of life and the attitude of the rich. The fourth story is about the upper-class society of Calcutta, singing and listening to a concert of music with cocktails and without any exposure to ordinary people. A high-class man talks about philosophy and says he is very disappointed about the condition of the poor in India. He is actually a hypocrite, who exploits the poor employees of his factory and makes money by torturing them. Continue reading Calcutta 71 (Mrinal Sen)

Kharij (Mrinal Sen)

Mrinal Sen
India.  1982.  99 min.
Cast:  Anjan Dutta, Mamata Shankar.

A servant boy, a minor, engaged in a middle class family dies mysteriously locked in a kitchen. Police enquiries reveal he was sleeping in the kitchen near a burning coal oven to keep himself warm in winder. Post-mortem report confirms death by carbon-monoxide gas poisoning. The happy household is suddenly thrown into a psychological trauma. Torn between a sense of guilt and fear of a police case and consequently scandal, the young employer and his wife expose their petty, hypocritical selves. Fearing accusation from the father of the deceased, they make futile attempts to please him. That nothing happens to them and the father departs quietly, leaves them completely defeated and crushed. Continue reading Kharij (Mrinal Sen)